Friday, November 9, 2012

Mandarin Orange Salad

A fresh and satisfying salad with lettuce, green onions, pecans, and mandarin oranges in a balsamic vinaigrette. 

 

I picked up a can of mandarin oranges at the store a few weeks ago. I have never used them before and thought I would try something different. Tonight I finally decided on a good way to use them; in a salad. I usually like to add dried cranberries to my salads, for that extra bit of color and a bit of sweetness, so I replaced them with the oranges. Here's what I did.  For 2 salads:


Ingredients:

1 can mandarin oranges
4 cups lettuce
1/2 cup pecans
1/3 cup green onions (sliced)

Vinaigrette:

3 parts oil
1 part vinegar
1 part Dijon mustard

First prepare vinaigrette in the bottom of a big salad bowl.  I use olive oil, and balsamic vinegar, but any vinegar and oil combination would work.  Exact measurements are not important, I just eyeball it, just try for the 3 to 1 ratio.  Stir all vinaigrette ingredients vigorously to emulsify them, then toss in lettuce.

I'm picky about how I make my salads, I only toss the lettuce in the dressing.  I've tried tossing everything together, but I don't like that everything else falls to the bottom and it's hard to get the right amount of toppings with each bite.  So I only toss the lettuce in the vinaigrette to flavor it, then separate the dressed lettuce into bowls and top with everything else.  This not only looks better, but it also ensures that each salad has the right amount of toppings.

I like green onions because the flavor is usually not as strong, but you can also use thinly sliced red onion.  I also like pecans, and I keep them around, but you could also use almonds. You could also toast the pecans, or any nut, to make them crunchier and enhance the flavor, but it is not necessary.  I even saw a recipe that used sugared pecans, but I think that would make the salad too sweet because the canned oranges add quite a bit of sweetness. The oranges I used were packed in light syrup, I drained and rinsed them before adding to the salad.  You could also use clementine segments and I think it would be very good.

This easy and versatile salad tastes great and makes a wonderful start to any meal, or even a light meal on it's own. I ate it as a starter and them had a small sloppy joe (left over from earlier) to finish my meal.  I think this salad would be great during dark and dreary winter days (for those of you on the mainland who have 4 seasons), citrus always seems to brighten up winter days.  Wintertime isn't the only time you can appreciate this salad, it fresh and refreshing anytime, anywhere, and  for anyone (even for me in Honolulu).  Enjoy.

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